Jersey Beat | by James McQuiston

Devendra’s music is arranged with the most careful of hands

“Ay Mama” has a double-harmonized set of vocals work magic alongside sweetly-wrought instruments. However, there are moments on Nino Rojo where Devendra creates a style of music that still feels a little hollow, music that could use more percussion, specifically “We All Know”. The oscillations in Banhart’s voice would be perfectly coupled with some simple foot-stomping added to the choice, and the album version relaying purely on a distorted cymbal and brass only portend a minor amount of the amazing possibilities of the track. Some tracks are specifically crafted for a child’s audience, including “Little Yellow Spider”, which could be recreated by a class of kindergartners for a more impressive sound. It comes time and time again that Banhart’s voice just does not have the power or energy to pull this album, and eir’s continued insistence on being the primary vocalist on the disc holds this album back. It is only when Devendra picks up a second vocalist to supplement eir’s own voice in a track like “At The Hop” where the disc finally has a full feeling that it seriously lacks. Devendra’s music is arranged with the most careful of hands, and the guitar lines that ey lays down are absolutely beautiful, but the “selfish friend that I am” might be better off giving the microphone to other vocalists more often.